Chris Wray: What I Enjoyed Playing in April 2020

This is the April entry for my long-lost series where I post five games I enjoyed playing in the past month for which I didn’t have time to do full reviews.  As always, I limit it to five titles, of which there’s a combination of old and new games.

It has been a long time since I’ve done an entry in the series, so I’m looking forward to returning to this monthly tradition.

My most played game of the month was My City, a legacy polyominoes game by Reiner Knizia, but I’ll have a review of it later this week, so I’ve left it off the list below.

Bus is a pickup and deliver game with just a hint of time warps. Players build routes around a city, delivering passengers to either home, work, or the bar, but in a twist, sometimes time stands still. It is a heavy, tense, think-y game from Splotter that was reprinted last year by Capstone Games after being long out of print.

The play was one of my favorite plays of the month. One player kept stopping time, so everybody was trapped at the bars, unable to go home or to work. Given recent events, it felt appropriate that everybody basically spent the game quarantined, albeit in a much more fun location. The result was a low scoring game, with the winning player only have seven points, and the player who kept stopping time ended with a negative score.

Piece o’ Cake is a longtime favorite of mine. This I-split-you-choose game is simple and tense way to start a game night. Although in recent years I’ve been enjoying New York Slice — which adds a few extras to gameplay — this past month my Japanese copy of Piece o’ Cake arrived, leading to several plays with my family.

Raiders of the North Sea is a family favorite, and I was able to pick up both of its expansions this month. We loved both, but Hall of Heroes was our favorite. For the uninitiated, Raiders of the North Sea is a middleweight worker placement game in which players build up their crew and resources to raid certain locations. Hall of Heroes introduces some new aspects to gameplay, most notably mead, which makes it just a bit easier to win battles.

Spicy is a bluffing card game for 2-6 players that feels a little bit like Liar’s Dice with cards.  Released earlier this year, the theme in Spicy is that three big cats, tired of fighting to be top cat, invented a hot spice eating contest. The game plays quickly, and it comes with 6 “Spice It Up” cards that offer different ways to play the game. All of the cards have a beautiful foil back, and for a game that consists entirely of cards, I was impressed by the production value.

We probably played this simple but addictive game about ten times this month. I think this could have a shot at the SdJ.

Tom Vasel said that Wingspan: European Expansion could be summed up by the words “more birds,” and that’s truly an apt summary. But my family and I have grown to love Wingspan, and this expansion got to the table a couple of times in April. It adds new end-of-round bonuses (probably the best new part), new bird cards, and a few new components. Like all good expansions, this new offering from Stonemaier accentuates the best part of the base game. I’m looking forward to the next expansion, which is rumored for later this year.

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